Pumas are among Costa Rica’s most treasured species. Photograph: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images
  • Ban does not affect Sport Fishing

Costa Rica on Monday became the first Latin American country to ban hunting as a sport, after an unanimous and final vote from the Legislative Assembly. The bill now awaits the signature by presidenta Laura Chinchilla, who has said she will sign it.

Lawmakers had provisionally approved a reform to its Wildlife Conservation law back in October. With a population of 4.5 million people, Costa Rica is one of the world’s most biodiverse nations.

Under the new law, those caught hunting can face up to four months in prison or fines of up to $3,000.

The law, however, permits hunting for personal consumption and does not affect sports fishing, a big tourist industry in the country. The ban is hunting for sport.

The new law, once it goes into effect, calls for smaller penalties for people who steal wild animals or keep them as pets. Jaguars, pumas and sea turtles are among Costa Rica’s most treasured species.

“There is no data on how much money hunting generates in the country, but we do know there are currently clandestine hunting tours that go for about $5,000 per person,” said Arturo Carballo, deputy director at Apreflofas, an environmentalist organization who spearheaded the reform.

Foreign hunters come to Costa Rica in search of exotic felines while others look to obtain rare and colorful parrots as pets.

This is also Costa Rica’s first proposal that came to Congress by popular initiative, with 177,000 signatures calling for the ban submitted two years ago.


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